Skip to main content

The Seven Questions

By Jim Oliver

James Arsnow

A few years back I attended a family dinner.  You know a typical American dinner where everyone is angry and fuming at each other over politics.  I felt like throwing a fork at one of my siblings.

Today, we find ourselves bombarded by talking heads, tweets and Facebook posts.   Our civic lives are punctuated with invective, anger and unrest. Witnesses the riots and looting in Portland, Seattle, Kenosha and New York.  Witness the calls to defund the police, to end Capitalism - the creation of the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.”  What is going on? It is very disorientating and depressing.

We are trapped at the center of some strange vortex of political correctness, cancel culture, outrage politics and fake news.  It is hard to know what is true and what is false.  In which leaders should we place our trust? Is there anything about our nation worth preserving - worth conserving?  How can one stay grounded during these turbulent times?

Let me share my approach.  I learned this approach from one of my uncles – James Arsnow, a World War II navy intelligence officer.  He had participated in the V-12 Navy officer training program and attended the Georgetown School for Strategic Study.  He served in the South Pacific during World War II and in Navy Intelligence during the cold war as a naval attaché to a number of countries.  He retired a Navy Commander. 

When everyone was finished arguing and were silently fuming at each other – he began to speak.  His manner was calm and authoritative.  The Great Depression, World War Two and the Cold War had taught him the virtue of remaining calm.   We sat spellbound as this man of nearly nine decades explained how the world really works, what is important and the seven key questions to ask. 

He explained there are just seven questions one must ask.  Seven simple questions to assess the health, strength, and direction of any nation.  Seven simple questions to assess if our academic and political leaders are worthy of our trust. 

1.  Does the Nation Control Its Own Borders?  If the answer is no - it is not a functioning nation. He referenced Eastern Europe during the cold war and Tibet as examples of none functioning nations.  He noted that some of our political leaders advocate a “global perspective” to our borders. They argue for no borders or policies with ineffective border enforcement. 

He reminded us that there was a time when our Nation lacked borders, a time when our borders consisted of palisade forts at Jamestown and Plymouth.  He stressed prior generations of Americans sacrificed their lives and treasure to expand and secure our current borders.  He conceded that in many instances, this expansion was a product of unfair tactics and outright aggression. 

Nonetheless, our Nation’s current borders are a bequest to us from prior generations.  The people who now live within these borders enjoy unparalleled levels of freedom and liberty - at a time when Billions of people still live under tyranny.  Hence, our borders have great value and must be preserved.

He said leaders unwilling to protect our borders are not worthy of trust. 

2.  Does the Nation Produce its Own Food?  If a Nation is not food independent, it is a very weak nation.  He noted that our Nation is not only food independent but that it is the breadbasket for the World.  

But he reminded us why we celebrate Thanksgiving.  He pointed out that in 1620 the Plymouth plantation was nearly starved out of existence and that in 1610 the Jamestown settlement was reduced from 600 settlors to just 60 starved survivors.  Each succeeding American generation cleared forests, plowed new fields, developed new plows to break midwestern sod and founded Land Grant Colleges - all in the cause of food independence. 

He explained our current food independence is a bequest from our ancestors.  But he then pointed out that Chinese owed companies are now buying up large tracts of America’s most fertile farmland and also buying up large American food processing companies. 

He warned that there are some leaders who are foolishly and blindly embracing “globalism” or embracing extreme versions of “free market theory." 

He said leaders who would sell our food independence to the highest foreign bidder are not worthy of trust. 

3.  Does the Nation Control its own military?   A nation that does not control its own military is an occupied nation.  He recounted that in his lifetime many European counties and Asian countries were occupied nations, as they no longer had control over their own military.  He reminded us that many of his classmates died liberating these countries and restoring to them independence with their own standing armies. 

He explained that America’s current military power is a bequest to us from prior generations.  But he added a cautionary warning.  He said there are some leaders who would dismantle the military and render it ineffectual.  Still other leaders would deploy the military without proper justification in endless foreign ventures.  

He said such leaders were not worthy of trust. 

4.  Does the Nation control its own currency and banking system? A nation that does not control its currency or banking system is a financial vassal state.  He explained that nations such as Greece that belong to the European Union no longer have a national currency and are subject to the demands of the European Union. 

He stressed that the U.S. Dollar serving as the world's default currency was not an accident.  It was the product of hard work of prior generations combined with unparalleled freedom which propelled America to the status of an economic superpower.   He stated that our banking system and the dollar's position as the world default currency is a bequest from our ancestors. 

He said leaders who would endanger the dominant position of the U.S. dollar with massive deficit spending are not worthy of trust. 

5.  Is the Nation Energy Independent?   A nation that is not energy independent is a weak nation.  He explained that as a naval officer during World War II he helped defeat Japan by completely cutting it off from oil imports.  Japan’s economy and war fighting ability collapsed. He recognized that America had recently become energy independent through new drilling technologies but that certain leaders would abandon this independence. 

He said leaders who would endanger our newfound energy independence are not worthy of trust. 

6.  Does the Nation Control its own Educational System?   A nation that does not control its own education system lacks control of its national culture and its future.  He noted that founding fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson, championed public education because they knew that a self-governing people must be well educated about the workings of their Republic - what we used to call civics. 

He noted that past American generations built the finest public school and greatest college and university system in the world.  This education system is a bequest from our ancestors. 

But he cautioned there was a battle raging in our school systems.  He observed that many schools no longer teach civics and history.  Civics and history are giving way to watered down “studies” programs.  Many of our young people are now so ignorant of how our Republic works, the origins of our fundamental rights, the Constitution, and our common law history that they openly flirt with socialism and even communism.   This is a sign of a failed educational system.  He warned that this is an existential threat to the civic culture which undergirds our Republic.  

He said leaders unwilling to require the teaching of basic civics and basic American history are not worthy of trust.  

7.  Does the Nation protect the civil rights of its people?  A nation that does not recognize and protect basic civil rights of its people is a morally weak nation that will never achieve long-term prosperity. 

He noted that some of our academic and political elites contend that we are a morally failed Nation founded upon human exploitation as portrayed by the 1619 Project.  These elites assert that America was never a great or exceptional nation.  They advocate an imposition of a new “woke” social order. 

He reminded us that America’s founding was a bold experiment in self-government at a time when the rest of the world was ruled by Kings, Czars and Emperors.  He said that our founding fathers had planted a type of “freedom garden” and had done so while enduring cannon fire and musket shot from the British.  

He conceded that all of the freedom flowers did not bloom in the “freedom garden” at the same time – that the institution of slavery was a moral stain on our history.  But he stressed that the moral force behind the words “all men are created equal” was so powerful that within just eighty-six years (one lifetime) the institution of slavery was expunged from our Nation. 

He noted that subsequent generations continued to toil in the “freedom garden” and expanded it through the civil war amendments, suffrage, and the civil rights movements.  He stressed that each succeeding generation remained committed to and expanded on the meaning of “all men are created equal.”  He explained that this was what made America truly exceptional. 

But he had a cautionary warning.  He warned we must distinguish between critics who wish our Nation well and critics who simply wish our Nation ill.  

Critics who wish our Nation ill constantly focus on the past moral failings of our founding fathers and slavery.  Why? They do so in order to delegitimize our founding principles and founding documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  In doing so, they seek to charm the people into abandoning their civil rights, our civic traditions, and our civic culture in the name of “social justice” “wokeness” and “socialism.”             

He said such leaders are not worthy of trust.                      

My Uncle died this year.  He was Ninety-one years old.  His coffin was shrouded with an American Flag while the Navy Hymn played.  I thank him for his service. I am also grateful he gave me a framework to navigate the current political vortex.  I hope these seven questions might also help you stay grounded.  

Enjoy your next family dinner.





Popular posts from this blog

The Blumenthal Burisma Connection

Steve Hilton , a Fox News commentator who over the weekend had connected some Burisma corruption dots, had this to say about Connecticut U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal’s association with the tangled knot of corruption in Ukraine: “We cross-referenced the Senate co-sponsors of Ed Markey's Ukraine gas bill with the list of Democrats whom Burisma lobbyist, David Leiter, routinely gave money to and found another one -- one of the most sanctimonious of them all, actually -- Sen. Richard Blumenthal."

Putting On Ayers, Radical Chic Lives

Another associate of Barack Obama, former terrorist now Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Bill Ayers, is shown in an article on him that appeared in Chicago Magazine with a flag rumpled at his feet, a Mona Lisa smile coursing across his face. Ayers, one supposes, is no fan of flag pins. He’s duded up in jeans and a frumpy navy sport coat, the very picture of soi-disant late 60’s early 70’sb, bomb throwing, cop hating, marriage scorning, pot smoking, authority questioning, radical underground revolutionary whose Daddy was a wealthy capitalist. Sol Stern in City Journal writes that Ayers is highly influential among the nation's educators: "Ayers’s texts on the imperative of social-justice teaching are among the most popular works in the syllabi of the nation’s teacher-ed schools and teacher-training institutes. One of Ayers’s major themes is that the American public school system is nothing but a reflection of capitalist hegemony. Thu

Shays To Republican Nominating Convention – Don’t Bother!

In a meeting with the Editorial Board of the Danbury News Times, Republican Party Senate hopeful Chris Shays told editors on Tuesday “he will take his fight for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to an August primary,” perhaps not the most useful way to influence Republican Party convention delegates to choose him to represent the party in what promises to be an expensive and contentious battle for a U.S. Senate seat presently held by Joe Lieberman. Mr. Shays had done the math. “Only 25 percent of voters in Connecticut are Republicans,” Mr. Shays says, “and only 20 percent of them vote. So now 5 percent of the electorate are (sic) going to vote in the Republican primary, and of that 5 percent, 2½ percent plus one are going to decide. … We know who those 150,000 voters are who are going to vote and we can target them and make our best case.” The worry among Republicans is that Mr. Shays' promised primary, should nominating conventioneers once again choose party competitor